Karine Georgian • cellist
The fingerprints of Robert Schumanns love for the cello are all over much of his chamber music: the piano quintet and quartet, the three string quartets, the three piano trios, not to mention the spellbinding Cello Concerto. So it is odd that, apart from the Concerto, only twice did he compose music specifically designated for the solo instrument, of which only one work, the Five Pieces in Popular Style, has come down to us. Jan Willem Nelleke and I decided to put together our own selection of pieces that even if he did not say so on the title page spoke to us of Schumanns understanding of the instruments unique double ability to provide a rich substrate in the texture and to soar in lyrical melody. To it, as a companion piece to Roberts Three Romances for oboe, we added Claras Three Romances for violin. We hope they will both forgive us for our temerity, because our love and admiration could not be more sincere.
Georgians peanut butter-smooth tone is a perfect counterpoint for Nellekes rolling-agitated piano as they explore Roberts Romanzen Op 94 and Claras Romanzen Op 22. (Incidentally this is the first time Claras romances have been set to record using the cello.) After all, what do you expect, from top-notch musicians performing well-rehearsed highlights from the canon, other than fearless, flawless playing?
Like most cellists I have studied and thought about Bachs solo cello suites all my playing life. And like all cellists I find the more I play them, the more there remains in them to discover. As one of my heroes, E. T. A. Hoffmann, wrote almost two hundred years ago: There are moments above all when I have been reading in the works of the great Sebastian Bach in which the numerical relations, one could say the mystical rules of counterpoint, awake in me an inner terror. I made this recording in 2007/2008, intending it to be the summation of my ideas about these incredible works, but am already finding when I perform them now that there are subtle differences in my approach to some of the movements. The recording of the gamba sonatas is Gary Coopers and my second attempt to get the measure of these intricate, endlessly interesting works; our second shot was greatly helped by the near-ideal acoustic and atmosphere of St. Martins Church in East Woodhay.
I loved her playing: it was deep, rich and soulful, as the best cello playing should be... well here she is on the SOMM label, as strongly flavoured and super-confident as ever, and ploughing a wonderfully fertile furrow of expression in the six suites.
Kodálys writing for cello and for violin represents some of the most original and ground-breaking new virtuoso techniques trills, harmonics, glissandi, tremolos, left-hand pizzicati ever to have been asked of string players. Incorporated as they are into a fusion of folk-derived tunes with transformatory sonata form and the inescapable sense of foreboding dominating Europe during the first World War, they result in passionate, melodically irresistible music that seems to embody the essence of Hungarys soul, its attachment to her land and her people.
Cellist Karine Georgian provides listeners with a deeply satisfying reading of this powerful composition. Her technique is effortless and precise, allowing listeners to focus on the sonatas many musical highlights rather on its virtuosic demands. From the stratospheric highs to extended bass range of its scordatura tuning, Georgians instrument produces an even, powerful, penetrating sound that demands and maintains attention.
Some people still raise an eyebrow at the version of Brahmss first violin sonata for cello, a fourth below the original key of G major. But the arrangement was so skilfully done, with a myriad of tiny alterations lovingly preserving the balance and relationship between the two instruments, that for a long time it was assumed Brahms must have done it himself. But no, it was the work of the conductor and composer Paul Klengel, a friend of Brahms, and greatly though I love the two original sonatas in E minor and F major, I think the D major, with its restrained sweetness of yearning intimacy, is actually my favourite of all.
Neither Karine Georgian, a pupil of Rostropovich and first prize-winner at the 1966 Tchaikovsky Competition, nor Pavel Gililov had come my way before on disc. But I hope such persuasive musicians will soon do so again. Their sympathy for Brahms equally as susceptible romantic and classical craftsman, struck me as of the unforced, intuitively perceptive kind.
Brahmss Clarinet Trio is one of the masters more elusive works, full of a kind of buried unease only partly concealed by its wealth of broad, peacefully flowing melodies. I am especially pleased that this recording is still in the catalogue and thus recalls to mind the special pleasure and instinctive musicianship I experienced collaborating with those great artists Thea King and Clifford Benson, both alas no longer with us.
The music of the quintessentially English composer John Ireland was new to me when I came to Britain in the early 1980s, but as the years went by I came more and more to appreciate its qualities of sensitivity and solacing introspection allied to Irelands distinctive harmonic language and the sheer craftsmanship of the writing. The Cello Sonata in particular has often found its welcome way into my recital programmes.
The second disc opens with a compelling performance from Karine Georgian and Ian Brown of the fine Cello Sonata of 1923. These admirable artists capture well this musics wistful, brooding atmosphere and are especially sensitive in the slow movement, a haunting evocation inspired by the landscape of the composers beloved Sussex Downs.
Nadia Boulanger once wrote that one could not become close to Martinu without loving him, so radiant was the purity of his personality. This personality illumines all of his music. Amen to that: Martinus sensitivity is at times so raw one almost feels one can touch it. This music is alive, it seems to jump off the page, and that is the feeling that Ian Munro and I tried to convey in our performances and recordings of it.
MusicWeb InternationalGripping recordings of Martinus complete works for cello and piano from the immensely gifted Russian cellist Karine Georgian.
Sparked off by the musicianship and virtuosity of the great Russian bayan (button accordion) player Friedrich Lips, Sofia Gubaidulina produced seminal works for the instrument, in two of which (Seven Words and In Croce) she conceived an extraordinary partnership with the cello. Gubaidulinas music is imbued with an intense spirituality, and so powerful did her idea prove to be that many composers both Russian and Western European have since written for the combination. This recording surveys some of the most striking examples.
The three works on this CD reflect my years of study with Mstislav Rostropovich in the famous Class 19 of the Moscow Conservatoire, when we worked together on them. Although Shostakovich did not write the Sonata for Rostropovich (it was composed before the composer met the cellist, many years before the two miraculous concertos he dedicated to him) it received a complete new lease of life as soon as they got together to perform it, and it was for ever afterwards associated with Rostropovich (having recorded it with the composer at the piano he declined ever to record it with another pianist). The vein of inspiration that my teachers playing unlocked in Benjamin Britten can be compared with such influences as that of Richard Mühlfeld and Joachim on Brahms, Clara Wieck on Schumann, Pierre Bernac on Poulenc mainsprings for a canon of works that continue to be at the core of the repertoire.
The insights Karine Georgian brings to these works, along with her innate refinement and technical expertise, make these unusually distinguished performances.
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This rather beautiful three-movement hybrid of eighteenth century Italian baroque violin music and late nineteenth century Romantic cello writing has its origin in two of Locatellis set of twelve virtuoso violin sonatas Op. 6, written somewhere in the 1720s but first published in Amsterdam in 1737. Locatelli designed them as showcases for his own stupendous technique, causing one of his patrons in Mantua, Count Benvenuto di San Rafaele, to declare that they all contained rocks famed for their thousand shipwrecks, for the purpose of uniting everything that could discredit the unwary performer. While violinists still take their life in their hands when they play these pieces, the great cellist Alfredo Piattis efforts to test players on his instrument to destruction are hardly less dangerous. I was delighted to discover recently that I still possess a good vinyl copy of a recording I made for Melodiya in the 1960s with the excellent pianist in Rostropovichs Moscow Conservatoire class, Aza Amintaeva, and although the sound is not up to a present-day CD release I thought listeners might still like to hear the result. For his transcription Piatti made a sandwich of two movements (the opening Allegro and the final Menuetto with Variations) from Locatellis Sonata in D major, Op. 6 No. 6, with the filling consisting of the Adagio from the Sonata in D minor, Op. 6 No. 12.